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Luke 18:35-18:43
Key Verse: 18:40-41

In the previous passage Jesus predicted again to his disciples his upcoming suffering, death and resurrection: “They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again” But the disciples did not understand any of this. Their eyes were not yet opened to see the promised suffering Messiah. However, in today’s passage a blind beggar could know Jesus, the promised Messiah who could come in the line of David and called out to him. Jesus spoke to him and he receive his sight and followed Jesus. May we newly think of Jesus and hear his word personally and respond to him rightly.

First, a blind man’s unyielding calling out for Jesus’ mercy (35-40a). Look at verse 35. “As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.” Jericho was a beautiful city with palm trees and balm trees. It was also a trading centre. So the city was often crowded with people. However, in the beautiful and rich commercial city there was a blind man sitting by the roadside. What he did was begging day by day. Since many businessmen were coming and going, probably he could earn quite a certain amount of money through begging enough to feed himself.

One day, like other days, he was sitting on the same place, by the roadside, begging. Yet, what happened to him? Look at verse 36. “When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening.” This shows that the blind man was not just sitting there begging. Although he was blind, his mind was very perceptive through his hears and very much concerned about the happenings of each day, particularly special events. Today, he could not see but hear the bustle of the crow and figure out that the people were unusually crowded. For it was near Passover and many Galilean pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem to attend the Passover would travel through Perea in order to avoid and Jericho, a satellite city of Jerusalem would be a very important stopping place. And we can imagine that Jesus and the Twelve were surrounded by a large crowd at this special occasion. Through his hearing sense he was sure that something extraordinary was going on. So he asked what was happening.

Look at verse 37. “They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’” As for him, this was really a big thing. The words, “Jesus of Nazareth” sparkled his mind and spirit. He must have heard about Jesus of Nazareth who healed the sick, even opening the eyes of the blind and cleansing men with leprosy. But what they said was “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” The words, “passing by” could have made him fatalistic, thinking, “Jesus of Nazareth has come to Jericho. But he is now passing by. What can I do? Who can dare to hinder his footstep? No way for me to encounter him.” However he did not think so. As soon as he heard that “Jesus of Nazareth was passing by,” he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” It is very interesting that in Luke’s gospel so far no one called Jesus Son of David. In fact in this gospel he is the only one who addressed Jesus this way. Son of David is one of the messianic titles of Jesus as the Messiah promised to come in the line of David. It is really amazing that he was a blind beggar but had a correct knowledge of Jesus, though not complete. We don’t know about his knowledge of theology. Most certainly he did not have much theological or scriptural knowledge about God and Jesus. Yet, one thing he knows about Jesus was very correct. He was sure that Jesus of Nazareth is Son of David, the promised Messiah, and so could truly help him in his wretched human condition. When the bling beggar had a sure knowledge of Jesus that he is “Son of David,” he found a right one to beg. So he courageously called out to him, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Until now he had begged wrong ones, saying, “Alms for the blind.” He begged for sympathy from people and was pitiful. Apparently, it seemed that his blindness made him miserable. Yet, in truth his begging for people’s sympathy made him miserable. Now when he found the right one from whom he could entreat for his mercy, he began to be different. Courage sprang up from his deep heart. When he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” he was not dependant and miserable anymore. Rather, he was independent, courageous and confident.

Look at verse 39, “Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” To those who led the way, the blind beggar was presumptuous. They must have thought, “How could he call out the Master on his way to Jerusalem with solemnity?” The popular perception was that this blind man was too insignificant for Jesus to pay any attention to. To them he had to know himself, behave himself and be decent. He had to have a basic etiquette in this situation. He should be quiet and leave the Master alone. They were ignorant of the work of God going on at that moment. They rebuked him and told him to be quiet. This was a great discouragement and an unexpected huge obstacle to him. However, he could be quiet, because he was so sure that Jesus, Son of David, who is merciful, would truly help him, and this was his lifetime opportunity he had been waiting for up until now. He would not forgo this opportunity. He did not let this chance pass away. He did not succumb to what they said. So he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on!” In this shouting he was determined and unyielding, not unreasonably or stubbornly, but because of the certainty of what he knew about Jesus.

Then what happened? Look at verse 40. “Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him.” Jesus did not pass by as all other people thought. But he stopped. This indicates that Jesus heard this blind man’s calling out, his unyielding shout for his mercy. Although Jesus was on his way to accomplish such a great plan of God, he had ears to hear such a poor man’s cry. No one could stop Jesus, his heavy footstep toward Jerusalem, but this blind beggar with his yielding crying out. Certainly, Jesus was pleased with this man and was happy to show his mercy to him, as he ordered the man to be brought to him. In the book of Joshua, as he said to the LORD in the presence of Israel, “O Son, stand still over Gibeon,” the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day (10:12). Then Joshua and his army of Israel could fight with the enemies to the end and defeated them in a great victory at Gibeon. The sun stopping was great, but we believe that Jesus’ stopping is greater and more meaningful. For Jesus’ stopping means all the blessings we need.

In this part we learn that we can let Jesus be passing by or stop. Our calling out to him for his mercy with unyielding spirit can make him stop. In other words he hears our unyielding crying out for his mercy. This is a very important teaching in Luke’s gospel and also in the whole Bible. At the beginning of chapter 18 we had already studied about the persistent widow. We remember Jesus’ words, “Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?” (18:7). God does not want us to give up in doing what is right or what is good, and in praying to him with a rightful request. He wants us not to give up, overcoming all the obstacles with faith. According to Hebrews 10:38, if we shrink back, God is not pleased with us. He wants us to keep doing what is good and right and keep praying until Jesus stops. For he is willing to stop to truly help us and fill our needs.

Second, Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” (40b-45). Look at verses 40b-41a. “When he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’” Undoubtedly Jesus knew what the blind man wanted. So he could have touched his eyes and opened them or he could have said, “Receive your sight.” But here when he came near, when he was in talking distance, Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” Why did Jesus want to help him in this way?

First of all, when Jesus asked this, Jesus wanted him to elicit the blind’s true and deepest desire so as to help his faith. And also, through this question the conversation began between Jesus and the blind man. When Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus wanted to have a relationship with him that would last forever. Healing could be done at one time, but relationship would go forever. These words were the words only the Messiah could give; the words, only the one who has power to do all things and who truly cares for him can speak. So he could know Jesus personally. Certainly, this word of Jesus would remain in his heart and life to the end of his life journey in this world.

At this question, the blind man replied, “Lord, I want to see.” There was no doubt to him that Jesus is the Lord. Without hesitation he said, “Lord, I want to see.” What he wanted was very clear, concrete and proper. Those who have many desires and wants are not clear about what they want. This man could have asked something else, such as wealth or girl friend or secure job, etc. Or he could have asked only something spiritual, saying, “God made me blind. So I am okay with my blindness; just let allow me to follow you.” But this man knew what he really needed at this point in his life. He had to see. In a sense, he was a practical man. Jesus was very pleased with this man’s clear request and now said, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Then immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. There are many people whose hearts go wrong after receiving what they wanted. But this man’s heart remained right. He was different from those lepers who went on their own way after being healed of their leprosy, forgetting the one who healed them. But this blind man, after tasting the grace of Jesus personally, did not lose the most precious thing, the treasure, that is, Jesus. When his physical eyes were opened, his spiritual eyes were also wide open to see Jesus. So immediately he followed Jesus, praising God. What he did revealed God’s glory. So when all the people saw this, they also praised God.

“Before the words of Jesus’ question, “What do you want me to do for you?” we can newly take a stand. He is the right one from whom we can beg his mercy. He is the one who can do anything and everything for us. He wants us to present a concrete and clear request so that we can experience his power and grace very personally and grow in a personal relationship with him and our life may reveal his glory. It can be for ourselves, our children or parents, or God’s flock of sheep. Personally, I reply, “Lord, I want to see the power of God’s word working more and more actively in and through and so see the powerful disciple-raising work be done in the gospel-centred Christian community in Canada, in U of T and many other campuses in this land.”

In our time it seems to be very difficult to raise clear disciples of Jesus. But I was very much encouraged by the story of one man, Tim Tebow. He is well known in college football. As quarterback for the Florida Gators, he won both the Heisman trophy as the best college football player in America, and two national championships. What is not so well known is that he is the son of American missionaries to the Philippines. He uses his fame as a collegiate athlete as a forum to preach Christ. A few years ago, during the national championship game, he painted “John 3:16” on his eye black on his cheeks. Every football fan in America could see this whenever the television camera took his close-up shot. As a result, 92 million people googled “John 3:16” to find out what it meant. However, for doing this, Tebow was insulted by many ungodly people. But he did not mind. He considers it a great privilege to suffer with Christ, for he knows that he will also share in Christ’s glory. Tim Tebow has not been blinded by fame or success or money. He is not afraid of people’s criticism or the devil’s mischief. He sees Christ clearly and makes Christ known, going through hardships to preach the gospel. We can pray that we ourselves can be courageous disciples of Jesus in our time and raise courageous disciples of Jesus in U of T campus pioneering work.

Here is also a story of a missionary family, the family of Timothy and Teresa Han in Sao Paulo. They married fourteen years ago, when Teresa was thirty. She needed to have children right away, both for biological reasons and to remain in Brazil as missionaries. But they could not. Years passed by. After trying various solutions, all they could really do was pray to God for his mercy. Seven years after marriage, Teresa became pregnant with the first of their three children. It was nothing but the Messiah’s answer to their cry for mercy. They applied this kind of crying out prayer to their mission lives. Through prayer, Timothy could get his Ph.D. from USP, the best university in Brazil. Now he teaches math to students in the Portuguese language, and his class is very popular. They also prayed for Jesus to raise disciples through them. Two beautiful and intelligent Brazilian girls, Attania and Jeanne, have committed themselves to follow Jesus and are growing as his disciples.

The words of Jesus, “What do you want me to do for you,” are not for some special people, but also for you and me. May we respond to this question of Jesus by presenting a clear request before him with unyielding spirit so that we can experience his power and know him more personally and follow him closely and actively.

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